The Engine of Progress Rocking it at 66!
31 August 2016. The Republic of Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe, is facing a deep demographic crisis, caused by migration and low birth rate accompanied by a high mortality rate. The elderly from Moldova – representing 16% of the total resident population – are the poorest and most discriminated, also in terms of employment. Thus, a UNDP project, funded by the European Union, provides practical solutions to create employment and business development opportunities for young people and for the seniors of an active age.
Green light for innovations
At 66 years old, Nicolai Constantinov from Comrat has seen his childhood dream come true. Last year he attended an intensive business training, won a grant of € 3,000, and founded the first electric cars service centre in his home town. His passion for electromechanics has become a business due to the Innovative Career Development SYSLAB Centre, set up by UNDP in Comrat and another four towns in Moldova. "During the four months of training, I did not miss a day. I learned how to develop a business plan, get to know about innovation, how to run a business... Even after completing the course, I am provided with guidance on how to make my business run smoothly,” says Nicolai Constantinov. It’s a step ahead of our time, as he claims that the future belongs to electric cars, which are environmentally friendly and economical. In wait for them to become popular in Moldova, meanwhile the Comrat inventor assembles electric cars for children, fixes appliances and promotes alternative energy sources at his center.
He believes that the donors gave him the green light, because they share similar perspectives: an innovative idea must be original, implementable and meet a particular need. Moldova is in great need of alternative sources of energy, especially of environmentally friendly ones, and of qualified labor force, regardless of age. This is not the first innovation implemented by Nicolai Constantinov. Together with a group of young people from Comrat, he built over the past years solar-powered tricycles, quadricycles and cars for children. Last year he created the first local solar-powered vehicle – a construction that is more advanced than his previous works. It is powered by solar batteries and can develop a speed of up to 25 km/h.
Leaving no one behind
Now, Nicolai Constantinov attracts with his inventivenss a lot of youngsters eager to learn something new. A magnet of knowledge and creativity. He tries to nurture their love for technology, to pass down his knowledge and experience gathered in a lifetime, and urges them to turn to the Syslab Centre services. Svetlana Georghieva, the Comrat Syslab Centre coordinator, says: "Over 300 people have already increased their chances to be employed or to launch their own business thanks to the 5 SYSLAB centres in Moldova".
- 120,000 people – nearly the entire population of ATU Gagauzia and Taraclia district, will benefit from improved services and renovated infrastructure.
- SARD will consolidate infrastructure to support rural business in the regions with special status in Moldova – ATU Gagauzia and Taraclia District – in order to develop the small and medium entreprises in the region.
- Employment opportunities will be created for both women and men, and entrepreneurship will be promoted in the regions with special status.
- Better management, improved quality and access to municipal services in 20 localities and 7 groups of localities will be achieved.
- Under the SARD project, 20 communities will have the opportunity to access funds for renovating social infrastructure.
- At least 7 local public services will be created, based on cross-community cooperation projects.
This year, the Comrat Syslab Centre became part of a new project funded by the EU with € 6.5 million and implemented by UNDP Moldova – "Support for Agriculture and Rural Development in ATU Gagauzia and Taraclia District" (SARD). From now on, for a period of three years, new jobs will be created under the SARD project. The population of the region will take part in the trainings on business development, similar to the ones Nicolai Constantinov benefited from.
SARD will enhance jobs opoportunities, support agriculture and rural development in southern Moldova
“We provide assistance to high scool and university graduates, returned migrants, regardless of age, ethnicity or work experience. The counselling provided is focused on identifying opportunities for future employment or planning and starting a business”, noted Svetlana Gheorgieva.
"It’s a very successful practice to give everyone equal opportunities and capitalize on the experience of our active seniors. It is a mutually advantageous partnership. It gives us a chance to be productive and achieve our full potential and to be ahead of our time in step with the youth of today that is,” says Nicolai Constantinov. The trust displayed by the Syslab Centre has fueled even more his willingness to work.
"Due to the SARD project, the residents of Gagauzia and Taraclia District will receive financial support in order to create new businesses in the agricultural sector, and alos a mechanism to support the existing SMEs. That means not only creating new jobs at the local level, but also increasing the capacity of communities to develop projects and establish long-term partnerships,” says Anatolie Terzi, SARD project manager.
The Comrat inventor is waiting for a new SARD project grant competition to develop his business. He already has some new ideas on how to produce a new heat generator based on liquid agricultural waste. He believes that at 66 life is only kicking off, since he has many plans, and enough strength and support provided to fulfill them all.